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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 79154 times)
Swamprat
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8505 on: May 19th, 2013, 10:55am »

"I said fake, reverse THEN dunk you birdbrain, not just DUNK for gadsakes!!" grin



When May 19 became the day of darkness

By Bob Greene
Sun May 19, 2013

(CNN) -- The date, in that long-gone American spring, was the same as today's: May 19.

The year was 1780.

The event is mostly forgotten, lost to the mists of history. Many people -- probably most people -- have never heard about it.

And the question, on this anniversary of that Day of Darkness, is:
In our constantly connected world, a world in which we are always in touch, always seemingly in the know, could the kind of fear that all but paralyzed the young nation that day still happen?

On that day in 1780, at around noon, much of New England -- meaning much of the new America -- went black. At midday, it was midnight.

This was not an electrical blackout, of course; homes and businesses did not have electricity in those years, and were illuminated by lanterns and candles.

Rather, the sky turned a deep, complete and unrelenting black, erasing the sun.

It was not an eclipse. It was not a thunderstorm.

Imagine, in the middle of a day in May, every bit of light suddenly and inexplicably disappearing from your world.

The citizens were terrified. They waited for the darkness to lift. It did not. Minutes began to feel like months.

One contemporaneous observer in Massachusetts, Samuel Williams, a professor at Harvard -- the "University at Cambridge," as he identified it -- wrote:

"The birds having sung their evening song disappeared and became silent. . .The fowls retired to roost. ... Objects could not be distinguished but at a very little distance; and everything bore the appearance and gloom of night."

As the daytime hours of blackness wore on, some people, according to historical accounts, began to think that there might never be light again. There was widespread supposition that Judgment Day may have come.

In the Connecticut legislature, Abraham Davenport rose to vigorously oppose his colleagues' wish to adjourn:
"I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty."

The blackness would last for the rest of the afternoon, past twilight and into full night. The next day, the sun would return. People hurried to churches to offer prayers of thanksgiving.

Centuries later, scientists would surmise that the Day of Darkness -- widely known as New England's Dark Day --- was the result of massive wildfires burning in the forests of Canada. Researchers from the University of Missouri postulated that the smoke from the fires was so thick and so deep in hue, so voluminous, that when, agonizingly slowly, it drifted over New England, it gave the illusion that the sun had died.

Today some people may scoff at what might seem like gullibility on the part of those early Americans.

But bear in mind that there were no telephones; there was no radio or television; there was no telegraph. People often lived far away from their nearest neighbor. They knew little of what, at a given moment, was happening outside the patch of land where they resided.

The one thing a person could always count on -- that the sun would come up in the morning and stay up until evening -- suddenly could not be counted on at all.

The Revolutionary War was still being fought. Those 13 British colonies on a sliver of the East Coast were the forerunners of what would become the 50 United States. So the citizens, many feeling completely isolated on the eastern edge of a continent that remained largely unexplored, might be excused for fearing the worst.

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier would write of that day:

"Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness, like the night
In day of which the Norland sagas tell,
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater's sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barn-yard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter. . . ."


http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/19/opinion/greene-day-of-darkness/index.html?hpt=hp_c4
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8506 on: May 20th, 2013, 09:13am »

on May 19th, 2013, 10:20am, purr wrote:
Good afternoon, WingsofCrystal! Sure, human - animal cooperation and friendship (parakeets, dogs, cats, horses, hawks, dolphins whatever) expresses evolution of mind, leaving us both 'better animals'.

smiley

purr

Good morning Purr cheesy

I agree with that completely.

Crystal






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"I said fake, reverse THEN dunk you birdbrain, not just DUNK for gadsakes!!"
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8507 on: May 20th, 2013, 09:16am »

on May 19th, 2013, 10:55am, Swamprat wrote:
"I said fake, reverse THEN dunk you birdbrain, not just DUNK for gadsakes!!" grin



When May 19 became the day of darkness

By Bob Greene
Sun May 19, 2013

(CNN) -- The date, in that long-gone American spring, was the same as today's: May 19.

The year was 1780.

The event is mostly forgotten, lost to the mists of history. Many people -- probably most people -- have never heard about it.

And the question, on this anniversary of that Day of Darkness, is:
In our constantly connected world, a world in which we are always in touch, always seemingly in the know, could the kind of fear that all but paralyzed the young nation that day still happen?

On that day in 1780, at around noon, much of New England -- meaning much of the new America -- went black. At midday, it was midnight.

This was not an electrical blackout, of course; homes and businesses did not have electricity in those years, and were illuminated by lanterns and candles.

Rather, the sky turned a deep, complete and unrelenting black, erasing the sun.

It was not an eclipse. It was not a thunderstorm.

Imagine, in the middle of a day in May, every bit of light suddenly and inexplicably disappearing from your world.

The citizens were terrified. They waited for the darkness to lift. It did not. Minutes began to feel like months.

One contemporaneous observer in Massachusetts, Samuel Williams, a professor at Harvard -- the "University at Cambridge," as he identified it -- wrote:

"The birds having sung their evening song disappeared and became silent. . .The fowls retired to roost. ... Objects could not be distinguished but at a very little distance; and everything bore the appearance and gloom of night."

As the daytime hours of blackness wore on, some people, according to historical accounts, began to think that there might never be light again. There was widespread supposition that Judgment Day may have come.

In the Connecticut legislature, Abraham Davenport rose to vigorously oppose his colleagues' wish to adjourn:
"I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty."

The blackness would last for the rest of the afternoon, past twilight and into full night. The next day, the sun would return. People hurried to churches to offer prayers of thanksgiving.

Centuries later, scientists would surmise that the Day of Darkness -- widely known as New England's Dark Day --- was the result of massive wildfires burning in the forests of Canada. Researchers from the University of Missouri postulated that the smoke from the fires was so thick and so deep in hue, so voluminous, that when, agonizingly slowly, it drifted over New England, it gave the illusion that the sun had died.

Today some people may scoff at what might seem like gullibility on the part of those early Americans.

But bear in mind that there were no telephones; there was no radio or television; there was no telegraph. People often lived far away from their nearest neighbor. They knew little of what, at a given moment, was happening outside the patch of land where they resided.

The one thing a person could always count on -- that the sun would come up in the morning and stay up until evening -- suddenly could not be counted on at all.

The Revolutionary War was still being fought. Those 13 British colonies on a sliver of the East Coast were the forerunners of what would become the 50 United States. So the citizens, many feeling completely isolated on the eastern edge of a continent that remained largely unexplored, might be excused for fearing the worst.

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier would write of that day:

"Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness, like the night
In day of which the Norland sagas tell,
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater's sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barn-yard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter. . . ."


http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/19/opinion/greene-day-of-darkness/index.html?hpt=hp_c4


Good morning Swamprat cheesy

That certainly would scare the crap out of you!

Crystal

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8508 on: May 20th, 2013, 09:19am »

Guardian

Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes

Yet another serious escalation of the Obama administration's attacks on press freedoms emerges.

Glenn Greenwald
guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 May 2013 08.16 EDT

updated below)

It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined - in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week's controversy over the DOJ's pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general.

New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ's attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News' chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests - something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington - and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for "espionage".

The focus of the Post's report yesterday is that the DOJ's surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and - most amazingly - obtained a search warrant to read two days worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, "investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material." It added that "court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist".

But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen - the journalist - committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information - something investigative journalists do every day - Rosen himself broke the law. Describing an affidavit from FBI agent Reginald Reyes filed by the DOJ, the Post reports [emphasis added]:

"Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator'. That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target. Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a 'covert communications plan' and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information. . . . However, it remains an open question whether it's ever illegal, given the First Amendment's protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so."

Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment's guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ - that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for "soliciting" the disclosure of classified information - is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

That same "solicitation" theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the US government can "charge [Assange] as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them." When that theory was first disclosed, I wrote that it would enable the criminalization of investigative journalism generally:

"Very rarely do investigative journalists merely act as passive recipients of classified information; secret government programs aren't typically reported because leaks just suddenly show up one day in the email box of a passive reporter. Journalists virtually always take affirmative steps to encourage its dissemination. They try to cajole leakers to turn over documents to verify their claims and consent to their publication. They call other sources to obtain confirmation and elaboration in the form of further leaks and documents. Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau described how they granted anonymity to 'nearly a dozen current and former officials' to induce them to reveal information about Bush's NSA eavesdropping program. Dana Priest contacted numerous 'U.S. and foreign officials' to reveal the details of the CIA's 'black site' program. Both stories won Pulitzer Prizes and entailed numerous, active steps to cajole sources to reveal classified information for publication.

"In sum, investigative journalists routinely — really, by definition — do exactly that which the DOJ's new theory would seek to prove WikiLeaks did. To indict someone as a criminal 'conspirator' in a leak on the ground that they took steps to encourage the disclosures would be to criminalize investigative journalism every bit as much as charging Assange with 'espionage' for publishing classified information."

That's what always made the establishment media's silence (or even support) in the face of the criminal investigation of WikiLeaks so remarkable: it was so obvious from the start that the theories used there could easily be exploited to criminalize the acts of mainstream journalists. That's why James Goodale, the New York Times' general counsel during the paper's historic press freedom fights with the Nixon administration, has been warning that "the biggest challenge to the press today is the threatened prosecution of WikiLeaks, and it's absolutely frightening."

Indeed, as Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler noted recently in the New Republic, when the judge presiding over Manning's prosecution asked military lawyers if they would "have pressed the same charges if Manning had given the documents not to WikiLeaks but directly to the New York Times?", the prosecutor answered simply: "Yes, ma'am". It has long been clear that this WikiLeaks-as-criminals theory could and would be used to criminalize establishment media outlets which reported on that which the US government wanted concealed.

Now we know that the DOJ is doing exactly that: applying this theory to criminalize the acts of journalists who report on what the US government does in secret, even though there is no law that makes such reporting illegal and the First Amendment protects such conduct. Essentially accusing James Rosen of being an unindicted co-conspriator in these alleged crimes is a major escalation of the Obama DOJ's already dangerous attacks on press freedom.

It is virtually impossible at this point to overstate the threat posed by the Obama DOJ to press freedoms. Back in 2006, Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales triggered a major controversy when he said that the New York Times could be prosecuted for having revealed the Top Secret information that the NSA was eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without warrants. That was at the same time that right-wing demagogues such Bill Bennett were calling for the prosecution of the NYT reporters who reported on the NSA program, as well as the Washington Post's Dana Priest for having exposed the CIA black site network.

But despite those public threats, the Bush DOJ never went so far as to formally accuse journalists in court filings of committing crimes for reporting on classified information. Now the Obama DOJ has.

more after the jump:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/20/obama-doj-james-rosen-criminality?CMP=twt_gu

Crystal




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« Reply #8509 on: May 20th, 2013, 09:25am »

Reuters

Hezbollah suffers big losses in Syria battle: activists

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Dominic Evans

AMMAN | Mon May 20, 2013 9:20am EDT

(Reuters) - About 30 Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and 20 Syrian soldiers and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been killed in the fiercest fighting this year in the rebel stronghold of Qusair, Syrian activists said on Monday.

If confirmed, the Hezbollah toll from Sunday's battles in Qusair near the Lebanese border would highlight a deepening intervention in Syria by the guerrilla group set up by Iran in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation troops in south Lebanon.

The reported Hezbollah losses also reflect the extent to which the Syrian conflict is turning into a proxy war between Shi'ite Iran and U.S.-aligned Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which back Assad's mostly Sunni foes.

Western countries and Russia, an ally of Damascus, back opposing sides in this regional free-for-all which is also sucking in Israel. Three times this year Israeli planes have bombed presumed Iranian arms stocks destined for Hezbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was "preparing for every scenario" in Syria and held out the prospect of more Israeli strikes inside Syria to stop Hezbollah and other opponents of Israel getting advanced weapons.

Israel has not confirmed or denied reports by Western and Israeli intelligence sources that its raids targeted Iranian missiles stored near Damascus that it believed were awaiting delivery to Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006.

FOG OF WAR

Syrian opposition sources and state media gave widely differing accounts of Sunday's ferocious clashes in Qusair, long used by rebels as a supply route from the nearby Lebanese border to the provincial capital Homs. Hezbollah has not commented.

The air and tank assault on the strategic town of 30,000 people appeared to be part of a campaign by Assad's forces to consolidate their grip on Damascus and secure links between the capital and government strongholds in the Alawite coastal heartland via the contested central city of Homs.

The government campaign has coincided with efforts by the United States and Russia, despite their differences on Syria, to organize peace talks to end a conflict now in its third year in which more than 80,000 people have been killed.

A total of 100 combatants from both sides were killed in Sunday's offensive, according to opposition sources, including the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Troops have already retaken several villages around Qusair and have attacked increasingly isolated rebel units in Homs.

"If Qusair falls, God forbid, the opposition in Homs city will be in grave danger," said an activist who called himself Abu Jaafar al-Mugharbil.

State news agency SANA said the army had "restored security and stability to most Qusair neighborhoods" and was "chasing the remnants of the terrorists in the northern district".

However, opposition activists said rebels in Qusair, about 10 km (six miles) from the Lebanese border, had pushed back most of the attacking forces to their original positions in the east of the town and to the south on Sunday, destroying at least four Syrian army tanks and five light Hezbollah vehicles.

The Western-backed leadership of the Free Syrian Army, the loose umbrella group trying to oversee hundreds of disparate rebel brigades, said the Qusair fighters had thwarted Hezbollah with military operations it dubbed "Walls of Death".

Syrian government restrictions on access for independent media make it hard to verify such videos and accounts.

"NO DIALOGUE WITH TERRORISTS"

The fighting raged as Western nations seek to step up pressure on Assad - Britain and France want the European Union to allow arms deliveries to rebels - while preparing for the peace talks brokered by Russia and the United States next month.

Assad has scorned the idea that the conference expected to convene in Geneva could end a war that is fuelling instability and deepening Sunni-Shi'ite rifts across the Middle East.

"They think a political conference will halt terrorists in the country. That is unrealistic," he told the Argentine newspaper Clarin, in reference to Syria's mainly Sunni rebels.

Assad ruled out "dialogue with terrorists", but it was not clear from his remarks whether he would agree to send delegates to a conference that may falter before it starts due to disagreements between its two main sponsors and their allies.

The fractured Syrian opposition is to discuss the proposed peace conference at a meeting due to start in Istanbul on Thursday, during which it will also appoint a new leadership.

Attacks by troops and militias loyal to Assad, who inherited power in Syria from his father in 2000, have put rebels under pressure in several of their strongholds in recent weeks.

Assad, from Syria's minority Alawite sect, has been battling an uprising which began with peaceful protests in March 2011. His violent response eventually prompted rebels to take up arms.

Hezbollah has supported Assad throughout the crisis but for months denied reports it was fighting alongside Assad's troops.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the Hezbollah casualties on Sunday at 23 dead and more than 70 wounded, while 48 rebel fighters and four civilians were also killed.

Tareq Murei, an activist in Qusair, said six more people were killed on Monday as Syrian army artillery and Hezbollah rocket launchers bombarded rebel-held parts of the town.

Video footage purportedly showed a Syrian tank on fire at a street corner in the town. In another video a warplane was shown flying over the town amid the sound of explosions.

Lebanese security sources said at least 12 Hezbollah fighters were killed in Qusair on Sunday. Seven were to be buried in the Lebanese town of Baalbek and nearby villages on Monday.

(Writing by Dominic Evans,; Editing by Samia Nakhoul and Alistair Lyon)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/20/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE94J0EA20130520

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« Reply #8510 on: May 20th, 2013, 09:43am »

Scientific American

China's One-Child Policy Affects Personality

China's one-child policy has affected the personalities of a generation of only children

By Carrie Arnold
May 20 2013

In 1979 China instituted the one-child policy, which limited every family to just one offspring in a controversial attempt to reduce the country's burgeoning population. The strictly enforced law had the desired effects: in 2011 researchers estimated that the policy prevented 400 million births. In a new study in Science, researchers find that it has also caused China's so-called little emperors to be more pessimistic, neurotic and selfish than their peers who have siblings.

Psychologist Xin Meng of the Australian National University in Canberra and her colleagues recruited 421 Chinese young adults born between 1975 and 1983 from around Beijing for a series of surveys and tests that evaluated a variety of psychological traits, such as trustworthiness and optimism. Almost all the participants born after 1979 were only children compared with about one fifth of those born before 1979. The study participants born after the policy went into effect were found to be both less trusting and less trustworthy, less inclined to take risks, less conscientious and optimistic, and less competitive than those born a few years earlier.

“Because of the one-child policy, parents are less likely to teach their child to be imaginative, trusting and unselfish,” Meng says. Without siblings, she notes, the need to share may not be emphasized, which could help explain these findings.

Only children in other parts of the world, however, do not show such striking differences from their peers. Toni Falbo, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study, suggests that larger social forces in China also probably contributed to these results. “There's a lot of pressure being placed on [Chinese] parents to make their kid the best possible because they only had one,” Falbo says. These types of pressures could harm anyone, even if they had siblings, she says.

Whatever its cause, the personality profile of China's little emperors may be troubling to a nation hoping to continue its ascent in economic prosperity. The traits marred by the one-child policy, the study authors point out, are exactly those needed in leaders and entrepreneurs.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chinas-one-child-policy-affects-personality

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« Reply #8511 on: May 20th, 2013, 09:46am »






Published on May 19, 2013

~

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« Reply #8512 on: May 21st, 2013, 08:31am »

Reuters

IRS officials back on Capitol Hill hot seat over targeting

By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON
Tue May 21, 2013 1:03am EDT

(Reuters) - A Senate panel will try on Tuesday to pry more details out of current and former officials of the Internal Revenue Service about the agency's targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status.

Lawmakers are also expected to demand answers about why officials did not earlier share with lawmakers evidence that IRS workers in Cincinnati, Ohio, had inappropriately focused on search criteria that included "Tea Party" and "patriots."

A Senate Finance Committee hearing will give members the first public opportunity to question former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who headed the tax-collection agency from 2008 to late 2012, during which the targeting occurred.

Senators will likely seize on Shulman's congressional testimony in late March 2012 that no groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny by the tax agency.

It has since emerged that the behavior started in March or April of 2010 and continued for 18 months.

A Treasury Department watchdog has said he informed Shulman about an investigation into the matter in May 2012, but assumed IRS officials would have given Shulman a heads up before that.

Senators are expected to aim another round of tough questions at the outgoing acting head of the IRS, Steven Miller, who refused to give specifics about who was involved in the scandal during a House of Representatives hearing last week.

Miller was forced to resign last week and more senior agency officials could be on the firing line in the broadening scandal as members of both parties rush to condemn the IRS for overstepping its authority.

The hearing on Tuesday is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. EDT.

The rising political storm has undercut President Barack Obama's second-term agenda and put the White House on the defensive as he tries to negotiate a budget deal with Republicans and push a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress.

The hearing in the Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee will feature a push for more details about who ordered the extra tax scrutiny for conservative groups. It will also focus on whether the White House was slow to divulge the practice once it learned of it.

Those questions gained more urgency on Monday when the White House revealed that two senior aides to Obama knew weeks ago about a draft Treasury Department watchdog report detailing the IRS targeting that occurred for an 18-month period starting in early 2010.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was notified on April 24 of the report's preliminary findings, and that she told Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior staffers soon afterward.

Obama has said he did not learn of the report's findings until May 10, when IRS official Lois Lerner apologized for the targeting at an American Bar Association conference.

The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee - Democratic Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and senior Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah - sent the IRS a letter on Monday seeking a broad range of documents and asking more than 40 questions covering three years of IRS activity.

"Targeting applicants for tax-exempt status using political labels threatens to undermine the public's trust in the IRS," Baucus and Hatch said in a letter to Miller. "Lack of candor in advising the Senate of the practice is equally troubling."

'MORE IS GOING TO COME OUT'

Among other things, the two senators asked for the names of all employees involved in the targeting effort and for copies of any communication between IRS employees and outside parties, including anyone in the White House or Treasury Department.

They also asked for the names of any IRS employees who became aware of anyone at the White House or Treasury who knew about the practice.

"I have a hunch that a lot more is going to come out, frankly," Baucus said in an interview on Sunday with Bloomberg Television. "I suspect that we will learn more in the next several days, maybe the next couple three weeks which adds more context to all of this."

The Senate Finance Committee is conducting one of three congressional probes into the scandal. The House Ways and Means Committee held the first hearing last week, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday.

Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations office, is scheduled to testify at Wednesday's hearing.

The Justice Department is also looking into the IRS practice, which has drawn angry accusations of a cover-up from Republicans who have accused Obama's administration of using government powers to punish political rivals.

Some Democrats, while also condemning the practice, have noted the IRS was headed by Shulman - an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush - during the period in question. Shulman has, however, donated to Democrats.

Also testifying at Tuesday's hearing with Shulman and Miller will be J. Russell George, the head of the watchdog group that issued a report on the IRS last week. George testified at the House hearing last week and said his office is continuing to investigate the matter.

(Editing by Karey Van Hall and Christopher Wilson)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/21/us-usa-irs-idUSBRE94F10Y20130521

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« Reply #8513 on: May 21st, 2013, 08:34am »

USA Today

The day the Earth stood soaked at Oregon UFO Festival

Michael Davis, (Salem, Ore.)

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. — Jim Sparks claims he has been abducted by aliens so many times he doesn't even swear at them anymore when they hunt him down and disrupt his otherwise normal life.

Sparks, author of the book The Keepers, entranced a near-capacity audience Saturday morning at the 14th annual UFO Festival. His expertise is in aliens who fit a familiar description: enlarged cranium, almond-shaped eyes, skin the color of the sky just before a tornado. The so-called "gray" alien species has been intruding upon his existence since 1988, Sparks says, and he has spent most of those years resisting them. But in the recent past, he says, the aliens, who communicate telepathically, have begun to loosen their grip during abductions, providing glimpses into their multidimensional world.

As an example, Sparks says time travel is "an everyday occurrence" for the creatures who are behind those close encounters of the third kind, which is to say they make frequent guest appearances on this planet.

Sparks thinks the grays have "an agenda" to keep us from destroying the earth by our own disregard for the natural world. He said aliens warn their human captives about environmental peril by showing them a kind of higher-than-high-tech slide show when they are taken aboard their spacecraft. Perhaps that's where Al Gore got the idea for An Inconvenient Truth.

Las Vegas television reporter George Knapp, a frequent late-night host of the fizzy Coast to Coast radio program and a pursuer of the paranormal, provided a chilling update about a parcel of land once occupied by Native Americans. All manner of unexplained phenomena has occurred there, according to a rancher who owned it. Among the reported menaces were a bulletproof wolf, UFOs shaped like Winnebagos and liquid-filled blue balls of light that seem to feed on human fear. (Note to summer vacationers: Steer clear of Skinwalker Ridge in Utah.)

Among other highlights of Saturday's second day of UFO festivities was a puddle-filled fun run for terrestrials followed by a costume parade through the heart of the historic downtown. Families lined up under a fairly steady rain to enjoy the promenade, which included appearances by Star Wars Stormtroopers, a vertically challenged Darth Vader, a gaggle of kids dressed as characters from Avatar, damp-but-determined Girl Scouts, a beaming alien queen and a marching unit of teens who played the garage-band classic Louie Louie.(The Statesman Journal has a full photo gallery.)

Taking it all in was a family of four from Keizer, who wore oversized alien headdresses. "Our last name is spelled C-l-i-n-g-e-r-m-a-n, but on our planet it is pronounced Smith," said family patriarch Aaron, who was joined by his wife Diana and children Indigo and Ian.

At McMenamin's Hotel Oregon, workers were preparing for the Alien Costume Ball, Saturday evening's festival finale.

Attendees made the best of the weather and the wondrous weirdness of a festival that celebrates a flying saucer's appearance in the skies above McMinnville on May 11, 1950.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/19/mcminnville-oregon-ufo-festival/2324689/

Crystal
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« Reply #8514 on: May 21st, 2013, 08:37am »

Japan Times

21 May 2013

China tapped Google server secrets

by Ellen Nakashima

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Chinese hackers who breached Google’s servers several years ago gained access to a sensitive database with years’ worth of information about U.S. surveillance targets, according to current and former government officials.

The breach appears to have been aimed at unearthing the identities of Chinese intelligence operatives in the United States who may have been under surveillance by American law enforcement agencies.

It’s unclear how much the hackers were able to discover. But former U.S. officials familiar with the breach said the Chinese stood to gain valuable intelligence. The database included information about court orders authorizing surveillance — orders that could have signaled active espionage investigations into Chinese agents who maintained email accounts through Google’s Gmail service.

“Knowing that you were subjects of an investigation allows them to take steps to destroy information, get people out of the country,” said one former official. The official said the Chinese could also have sought to deceive U.S. intelligence officials by conveying false or misleading information.

Although Google disclosed an intrusion by Chinese hackers in 2010, it made no reference to the breach of the database with information on court orders. That breach prompted deep concerns in Washington and led to a heated, months-long dispute between Google and the FBI and Justice Department over whether the FBI could access technical logs and other information about the breach, according to the officials.

Google declined to comment for this article, as did the FBI.

Last month, a senior Microsoft official suggested that Chinese hackers had targeted the company’s servers about the same time Google’s system was compromised. The official said Microsoft concluded that whoever was behind the breach was seeking to identify accounts that had been tagged for surveillance by U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies.

“What we found was the attackers were actually looking for the accounts that we had lawful wiretap orders on,” said David Aucsmith, senior director of Microsoft’s Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments.”If you think about this, this is brilliant counterintelligence,” he said. “You have two choices: If you want to find out if your agents, if you will, have been discovered, you can try to break into the FBI to find out that way. Presumably that’s difficult. Or you can break into the people that the courts have served paper on and see if you can find it that way. That’s essentially what we think they were trolling for, at least in our case.”

The U.S. government has been concerned about Chinese hacking since at least the early 2000s, when network intrusions were discovered at U.S. energy labs and defense contractors.

The Chinese, according to government, academic and industry analysts, have stolen massive volumes of data from companies in sectors including defense, technology, aerospace, and oil and gas. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, has referred to the theft of proprietary data as the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

The Chinese emphatically deny they are engaged in hacking into U.S. computer systems and have said that many intrusions into their own networks emanate from servers in the United States.

“The Chinese government prohibits online criminal offenses of all forms, including cyberattack and cyber-espionage, and has done what it can to combat such activities in accordance with Chinese laws,” a Chinese Embassy spokesman, Yuan Gao, said in an email. “We’ve heard all kinds of allegations but have not seen any hard evidence or proof.”

Experts said an elaborate network of interconnected routers and servers can make the Internet tailor-made for the shadowy work of spying and counterspying. It stands to reason, they said, that adversaries would be interested in finding vulnerabilities in the networks of the companies that authorize surveillance on behalf of the government.

“It is an absolute rule of thumb that the best counterintelligence tool isn’t defensive — it’s offensive. It’s penetrating the other service,” said Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA, who said he had no knowledge of the incidents. Hacking into a surveillance database, he said, “is a form of that.”

Google’s crisis began in December 2009, when, several former government officials said, the firm discovered that Chinese hackers had penetrated its corporate networks through “spear phishing” — a technique in which an employee was effectively deceived into clicking a bogus link that downloads a malicious program. The hackers had been rooting around inside Google’s servers for at least a year.

Alarmed by the scope and audacity of the breach, the company went public with the news in January 2010, becoming the first U.S. firm to voluntarily disclose an intrusion that originated in China. In a blog post, Google chief legal officer David Drummond said hackers stole the source code that powers Google’s vaunted search engine and also targeted the email accounts of activists critical of China’s human rights abuses.

As Google was responding to the breach, its technicians made another startling discovery: Its database with years’ worth of information on surveillance orders had been hacked. The database included data on thousands of orders issued by judges around the country to law enforcement agents seeking to monitor suspects’ emails. The most sensitive orders, however, came from a federal court that approves surveillance on foreign targets such as spies, diplomats, suspected terrorists and agents of other governments. Those orders, issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are classified.

Michael DuBose, former chief of the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, declined to comment on either the Microsoft or Google case. But, he said, in general such intrusions serve as “a wake-up call for the government that the overall security and effectiveness of lawful interception and undercover operations is dependent in large part on security standards in the private sector. “Those,” he said, “clearly need strengthening.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/21/business/china-tapped-google-server-secrets/#.UZt4D5Dn-1s

Crystal
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« Reply #8515 on: May 21st, 2013, 08:40am »






Published on May 18, 2013


A Very Touching Story of Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach served as a dog handler in Afghanistan and built a strong relationship with Casey, a four-year-old yellow lab. The two faced more than 150 combat missions together and in June of 2012 the two were separated. Gundlach went to school in Madison, Wisconsin and Casey went to serve in the Iowa State Fire Marshal's office in Des Moines, Iowa. In a special ceremony Friday, State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds surprised Gundlach by reuniting him with Casey and allowed him to take her home.

~

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« Reply #8516 on: May 22nd, 2013, 08:45am »

IRS testimony by Lois Lerner is about to start. I'll be back later. I want to watch this.

Crystal

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« Reply #8517 on: May 22nd, 2013, 1:13pm »

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"What planet are you from again?"
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« Reply #8518 on: May 22nd, 2013, 2:30pm »

"IRS testimony by Lois Lerner is about to start. I'll be back later. I want to watch this."

Didn't "Lern" much, didja?? laugh


"What planet are you from, again?"

Nice one, Phil! grin
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« Reply #8519 on: May 23rd, 2013, 09:14am »

Thanks Phil,

That is really cute. What planet indeed!

Good morning cheesy

Crystal

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